Most people do not readily associate scuba diving with Middle Tennessee. They typically think of tropical locales with loads of colorful fish and Coral reefs with a shipwreck or two sprinkled in the mix. For myself, as with many others, diving in inland rock quarries is necessary for training and keeping skills sharp. They are not really a first choice as a destination for diving, but they do have the convenience factor of being close to home. If you are a local or are visiting the area, there’s a couple of great dive sites near Nashville. Sure, you won’t see crystal clear water and diverse marine life like you would in Florida or the Caribbean but there are places to train and have underwater fun that are a short drive from Music City.
Experience with multiple dive sites is a great thing and I am a firm believer that a diverse diver is a better diver. Quarry diving is a great way to experience cooler water, lower visibility, thermoclines, and shore entry/exit techniques. They are also great for keeping skills sharp and trying out new gear in between dive trips. While not as exciting as other diving destinations, it is nice to explore these underwater environments and increase your experience level, all without even packing an overnight bag.
Just outside of Nashville in Lebanon, TN you will find Martha’s Quarry Scuba Center. This is by far my favorite dive site in the state of TN. I am a passionate wreck diver, so the underwater rock crusher buildings are where I spend most of my time when I’m diving in this rock quarry. This is the closest you can get to wreck diving without being inside of a shipwreck. Inside the buildings you’ll find many of the same challenges such as sharp edges, pipes, and wiring, all in a multi-level environment. Large gears and machinery are reminiscent of a ship’s engine room. Ambient light does penetrate most spaces but there are some places where a dive light is a necessity. Proper training and certification are needed to venture into any area with an obstruction overhead, but just like a shipwreck, there is plenty to see from the outside too. Reach out to me if a wreck diving certification sounds like fun to you. In addition to the buildings, there is also a large conveyor belt, several boats, a bus, an airplane and even a full underwater kitchen setup!
About an hour North of Nashville in Hopkinsville, KY is Pennyroyal SCUBA Center. This is a great place as it has a dive shop onsite that provides rental gear and air/Nitrox fills. There’s a ton of attractions underwater including big boats, a shipping container, statues, a pay phone, and even a Great White Shark! While there is a large area to explore that is shallow, Pennyroyal has some deep places, as deep as 130’. It’s a unique experience to in the summer months to go from shallow water at 80° down to the deeper sections where the temperature drops to 45°.